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Parties oppose relocation of Byculla zoo to suburbs

The recommendation from Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to shift the Veermata Jeejabai Bhosale Zoo from Byculla to the city’s suburbs has been met with stiff resistance from political parties.

Approached by MiD DAY for their take, no party seemed agreeable with idea of uprooting the historical but ill-maintained zoo from the island city and relocating it to Goregaon or Borivli.


MiD DAY report on June 28

Shiv Sena, ruling party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), showed strong opposition to the idea. Mayor Sunil Prabhu confirmed that the BMC is against the change. A private consultant appointed by MTDC had recommended in a report that the Byculla Zoo be shifted to the Aarey Colony area in Goregaon or the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli. In a presentation on the Tourism Development Plan before the Greater Mumbai Tourism Area Development Committee on June 19, consultants had recommended shifting the zoo out of the city and into the
suburbs.

The MTDC then invited suggestion and objections from citizens on the issue on its website. MiD DAY had reported the development yesterday (Historic Jijamata Udyan may be moved to suburbs). The mayor rued that the state and Central government should have moved fast on the revamp plan of the zoo earlier. “If they would have had cleared the proposal in time, the revamp of the zoo would have been done,” said Prabhu. 

Rahul Shewale, chairman of the civic Standing Committee said he would write to the municipal commissioner, who also heads the Greater Mumbai Tourism Area Development Committee. “There is no logic behind the recommendation of shifting the zoo into the suburb. We have started revamping the zoo so that people can see more animals. The zoo could be the attraction of the city,” he said. 

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too is in favour of retaining the zoo in the island city. “The current zoo has historic importance. People coming from suburbs or from outside the city to see tourist spots like Gateway of India, Girgaum Chowpatty, the museum, can visit Byculla. It should remain in Byculla and should not be shifted to the suburb,” said Dhananjay Pisal, NCP leader. He also said that he would write to the municipal commissioner informing him about the party’s stand.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Dilip Lande could not be reached for comment. MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande, however opposed the move. “Rani Baug is part of the identity and history of Mumbai; it should remain in the island city,” said Deshpande.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken a more ambiguous approach to the matter. “If the state government wants to allow construction on the plot after shifting the zoo to the suburbs, then we will strongly object to the move,” said Ashish Shelar, Mumbai BJP president. “I would be in favour of shifting the zoo to a suburb only if the site is animal-friendly, tourist-friendly. Proper infrastructure and medical facilities should be available for animals nearby,” added Shelar.  

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